But what if you don't want to invest in a full round of training? What if you feel pretty good about yourself and your own training and just have a quick question? Or maybe you've heard about something in the SEO world, live in an obscure town, and don't have an abundance of face-to-face networking opportunities.
Of course, today we're addressing SEO forums: environments in which you can find experts and novices alike to discuss all things SEO.
Finding the Good Ones
Success of any forum – whether SEO, sports or politics – is predicated mostly upon the involved community, much like real life. November's U.S. general election won't be a successful event if only 2 percent of Americans show up to vote. Forums are all about having an active conversation in a format of debate, information exchange, or both. The more active, the more involved you can get, and the more likely you'll get a meaningful response to your question.
Note: Almost every forum worth its salt requires registration to avoid spam posts.
Another note: Always, always, always read the posting guidelines on every forum you visit. Posting without reading the guidelines will immediately pin you as a n00b and, depending on the rules and tolerance of the monitors, you can be teased, flamed, or even banned for such foolishness.
Search Engine Watch
Search Engine Watch Forums is going to go first to get the bias out of the way. We can't seem to pull the chain without ringing our own bell, but for good reason. Search Engine Watch Forums cover everything search engine related, from specific engine issues to marketing strategies. Most categories have activity only a couple hours old (and post that information), meaning this is an active site. The organizational structure is particularly noteworthy, making navigation a breeze.
Webmaster World Forums covers SEO and marketing topics, as well as a wide variety of all things Web. Despite having such an enormous choice and broad scope, the user base keeps everything up to date in this active forum. It's especially nice to visit here when your needs don't necessarily revolve solely around SEO.
The interface, while not as intuitive as SEW, is relatively easy to navigate. The "Highlighted" posts allow new ideas, questions, and thoughts that may have been buried down a few layers to come to the surface and gain new readership, and is most likely one of the reasons behind the successful and constant flow of ideas here.
High Rankings Forum also focuses on all things SEO, from techniques to research to industry news, covering a broad base of what we all know and love about search engine marketing (SEM). With a slick logo and sleek and clean interface design, the only lacking aspect of this site is the activity; most is today, but much is yesterday or later.
Sphinn is the "Internet Marketing News & Discussion Forums" site that, again, tackles all aspects of SEM, such as the individual engines, social marketing, and optimization. Sphinn's take on organization for these forums is to focus on what's hot, what's getting the most constant and recent traffic, with tabbed navigation for the rest of the site to make sure you can find what you're looking for. Top 10, What's Hot, and Greatest Hits are some of the highlights keeping this site fresh. The clean look and easy navigation lends itself to frequent updates, most of which are, in the general topics, posted to in the last couple days.
Except in very rare cases, if you can think of a question about SEO, it's already been thought of, posted, and answered on a forum somewhere. You'll have to find your own fit as far as forums go: the social aspect (and sometimes cliquey nature) may not fit like a glove at first blush, or second, or third. But this is the Internet: if you're looking for answers, your best bet is a vetted site with a broad base of experienced experts who are constantly knocking down bad information. And forums fit that environment to a T.
Do you have any favorite forum homes for SEO that we missed or passed on this round? E-mail me. There are plenty out there and we'd love to have your input.